Building on Coventry’s positive community relations

Dozens of organisations met earlier this week to look at ways of increasing the levels of integration between communities and organisations in the city.

A workshop titled: ‘Building a Coventry that works for all’ brought together representatives from different communities working on projects from tackling poverty, to improving health and wellbeing in Coventry.

Cllr Kindy Sandhu, who Chairs the Council’s Scrutiny Board for Education and Children’s Services, said that the city has always welcomed new communities into the city and has been highlighted as an example of positive multicultural relations.

She added: “It was excellent to see different communities and local organisations come together and continue to have the conversations about how we can make Coventry a city for all. This session was just one milestone on our journey to make sure that everyone benefits from what the city has to offer.”

“Personally, as chair of the Children’s Services and Education Scrutiny Board, I would like to see if we could make provision in the curriculum for young people to learn more about the different communities, we have here in the city.”

The workshop heard from representatives from Coventry City Council, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Coventry University and Community Group leaders about a variety of ways to promote and encourage integration in the city.

Cllr Pervez Akhtar, Deputy Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, said: “There’s lots of great work being done in Coventry, however, we still have issues we need to tackle like child poverty for example. This session was a fantastic opportunity for lots of organisations to examine and consider how we can tackle these issues. We stand a better chance of making real change when we work together.”

One of the session’s speakers, Sinead Ouillion from Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, highlighted the skills gaps that many employers speak about with regards to hiring migrants.

She said: “We conducted a survey of 200 local employers, whereby 80% of them identified they have significant skills gaps, particularly when it comes to hiring migrants and refugees. They said they would consider employing refugees and migrants but many of them, especially the smaller companies, were fearful about not getting the paperwork correct.

“Today’s session was important, as it let me network with other community organisations and gain advice that will help me help employers get over this barrier.

“Surveys of small businesses in the city have found that eight in ten would take on more employers from refugee or migrant communities if they could ensure that they could get the paperwork planned.”

Nationally towns and cities are being asked to set up Cohesion and Integration Networks to support community groups and to tackle extremism. This forms part of the Home Offices’ Integrated Communities Action Plan.

Partners agreed to work to secure more funding opportunities and increased efforts to put together more joint funding bids.

In recent years Coventry has successfully secured funding for the Mi-Friendly Cities project. The 3-year initiative, which funded by the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions Fund, seeks to develop innovative, community-led and sustainable approaches to enhancing the contribution of refugees and migrants across the city.

Contribute to the discussion online on Coventry City Council’s Let’s Talk platform.